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ScrapBusters: Passport Covers

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One of the top searches recently on Pinterest is for passport covers. We’ve also seen several versions for sale on Flash Sites and at other popular retailers. Everyone must be on the go! For something this popular, there needs to be a quick and easy Sew4Home version. We have you (and your passport) covered. Using faux leather for the outside and quilting cotton for the inside, our little folders protect your passport from dirt and keep it flat. Two interior pockets hold it open to the appropriate page, and a stretchy elastic band keeps it shut. 

We love working with faux leather at Sew4Home and so always have pieces in our scrap stash. You may be the same, but if not, you can often find small remnants at local retail outlines. If you have a leather goods store in your area (we have Tandy Leather out here), they also have scrap bins with real leather bits at very reasonable prices – usually by the pound. 

For the stitching on the project, we recommend starting with a new Denim/Jeans needle in an 100/16 or 110/18 size. This needle has a very sharp point and is thick and durable, important characteristics when sewing through thick layers. 

We used our standard presser foot, but if you are new to working with thicker layers of differing weights, you may want to use a Walking or Even Feed foot or engage your machine’s built-in feeding system. These options provide feed dog control from both the bottom (standard) and the top (important) so layers move under your needle with even precision. We love the built-in AcuFeed™ Flex feeding system on our Janome Skyline S7 that performs the same function. 

The small interior pockets are lightly interfaced to give them enough stability to hold the passport open to the correct page. You could substitute a thin, clear vinyl but keep in mind that this additional layer adds quite a bit of extra thickness, which can make precise edgestitching tricky.

When going through security, you are usually asked to remove your passport from any cover. Ours is designed to be able to be quickly opened and the passport slipped out without problem. 

Our ScrapBusters series is one of the most popular here at Sew4Home. Do you have an idea for a small project you’d like us to consider? If so, leave a comment below or send an email to info@sew4home.com

As always, we love to see your success stories. If you are on Facebook(sew4home), Twitter (sew4home) or Instagram (sew4home_diy) post a picture so we can all share in your inspiration. 

Our passport cover is sized to fit a standard US passport. It measures 5½” x 8” when open and flat and 5½” x 4” when closed. 

Sewing Tools You Need

Fabric and Other Supplies

  • Scrap or ¼ yard of 44”+ wide faux leather; we used faux ostrich in white and lime green from our stash
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of 44”+ wide quilting weight cotton; we used two bright coordinating cottons from our stash; the diamonds are from the Joie de Vivre collection by Bari J for Art Gallery and the fish are from the Raindrop collection by Rashida Coleman-Hale for Cotton + Steel
  • Scrap or ¼ yard of 20”+ wide lightweight fusible interfacing; we used Pellon Shir-Tailor
  • Scrap or ⅓ yard of soft ¼” elastic; such as Dritz ¼” Braided Elastic – we used black
  • Hole punch; it should have a “bite” of at least 1” in order to reach in far enough from the raw edge of the faux leather
  • All-purpose thread to match fabric 
  • See-through ruler
  • Fabric pen or pencil
  • Seam gauge
  • Seam ripper 
  • Scissors or rotary cutter and mat
  • Iron and ironing board
  • Clips for working with faux leather; we like Clover Wonder Clips
  • Straight pins
  • Hand sewing needle

Getting Started

  1. Download and print out the Passport Cover Patterns, which have been bundled into one PDF to make the download easier.
    IMPORTANT: Each page of the PDF is ONE 8½" x 11" sheet. You must print the PDF at 100%. DO NOT SCALE to fit the page. There is a guide rule on the sheets to insure your printout is to scale.
  2. On the main passport cover base piece, you’ll see two perimeter lines. The outermost line (in red) is the cutting line for the quilting cotton. The innermost line (in black) is the cutting line for the faux leather and the interfacing. To start, cut along the outermost red line. 
  3. For the second page, simply cut out each pocket pattern along the solid line. 
  4. From the quilting cotton, use the full pattern to cut TWO from the quilting cotton.
  5. Also from the quilting cotton, use the full pattern to cut ONE diagonal pocket.
  6. And finally, also from the quilting cotton, use the full pattern to cut ONE straight pocket. 
  7. Trim the main base panel pattern along the inner black line and trim both pockets along the dotted pocket fold lines. On the main base panel, punch out the two holes through which the elastic will pass. 
  8. Using the trimmed main base panel pattern, cut ONE from the faux leather. Pin the pattern on the wrong side of the faux leather. 
  9. Trace the two circles that indicate the holes for the elastic loop onto the wrong side of the faux leather. 
  10. Using all three trimmed pattern pieces (the main base panel and the two pockets), cut ONE of each from the scrap of lightweight interfacing. 
  11. Cut the man base panel interfacing piece down the center, using the dotted line as your guide. 
  12. Punch out the two holes from the faux leather base panel. 
  13. From the elastic, cut ONE 11¼” length.

At Your Sewing Machine & Ironing Board

Attach the elastic loop

  1. Find the faux leather base panel and the 11¼” length of elastic.
  2. Feed a raw end of the elastic through each of the punched holes. 
  3. Pull the ends through to the back.
  4. Overlap the ends approximately 1½” and hand tack in place with just 2-3 small stitches. 
  5. Pull the resulting loop from the right side of the panel until the overlapped ends sit flat against the wrong side of the panel. Stitch in place from hole to hole. Make sure the front loop is out of the way of this stitching. 

    NOTE:
    The machine should be threaded with thread to best match the faux leather in both the top and the bobbin. The bobbin stitching will be what shows on the right side. We are stitching from the wrong side in order to keep the elastic straight and flat between the two holes. Remember to make sure the elastic loop is completely out of the way of your stitching.
  6. On the right side, you should have just one small line of stitching between the two holes. Trim the thread tails as close and tidy as possible. 

Create the inside panel

  1. Find all the quilting cotton pieces and the interfacing pieces. Center the interfacing on the wrong side of one quilting cotton base panel so there is ¼” of fabric showing beyond the interfacing on all sides. Remember, there should be a small space down the center of the two interfacing pieces to allow the case to fold easily in half. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place. 
  2. Center the interfacing along one half of each of the pocket pieces, on the fabric’s wrong side. The outer edges of both layers should be flush. Following manufacturer’s instructions, fuse in place.
  3. Fold the pocket panels in half, wrong sides together, sandwiching the interfacing between the layers. 
  4. Place the interfaced base panel right side up on your work surface. 
  5. Place the straight pocket along the right side of the panel, aligning the raw edges of the folded pocket with the raw edge of the base panel.
  6. Place the diagonal pocket in the bottom left corner, aligning the raw edges of the folded pocket with the raw edge of the base panel. 
  7. Place the remaining base panel on top of the layered pieces. This remaining panel should be right side down (in other words, the two panels are right sides together) and the edges should be flush all around. Pin through all the layers, leaving a 3” - 4” opening along the bottom edge.
  8. Shorten the stitch length for the smoothest curves at the corners. Using a ¼” seam allowance, stitch around the outer perimeter through all the layers. Go slowly around each corner to keep the curves smooth, and remember to lock the seam at either side of the 3” - 4” opening. We used our Quarter Inch Seam foot.
  9. Grade the seam allowance, trimming back one side of the seam allowance to ⅛”. Press open the seam allowance.
  10. Clip the curves, being careful to not cut into your seam.
  11. Carefully turn the sewn panel right side out through the opening. 
  12. Using a long, blunt tool, such as a knitting needle, chopstick or point turner, smooth out the seam allowance, being especially careful to create a smooth curve at each corner. Press the entire panel flat, pressing in the seam allowance at the opening so it is flush with the sewn seam. 

Layer and edgestitch to finish

  1. Find the faux leather exterior panel, which should have the elastic loop sewn down. Place this panel wrong side up on your work surface. 
  2. Place the finished interior panel right side up on the exterior panel, so the two pieces are wrong sides together. Clip together the layers. 
    The edges of the two layers should be flush all around. 
  3. Edgestitch around the entire perimeter, staying ⅛” or less from the edges. Make sure the elastic loop is out of the way of the edgestitching. 
    NOTE: Although we usually lengthen our stitch when topstitching and edgestitching, in this care we actually shortened our stitch a bit – the same as when stitching together the interior layers above. We wanted a very tight seam to hold the layers in place, and a shorter stitch makes it a bit easier to keep a smooth and even curve.

Contributors

Project Design: Alicia Thommas
Sample Creation and Instructional Outline: Debbie Guild

Section: 

Comments (2)

Siena said:
Siena's picture

I have wanted to make one before, but always put it off for later. Now, after seeing this post, I want to make one even more. Might even make one for my husband. Would make great Christmas gifts too. Great job on the tutorial.

Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home said:
Liz Johnson.Editor.Sew4Home's picture

@Siena-thank you. They would make great gifts! Let us know how the project works out for you. 

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